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Kean wins scrum over Rowan in snowstorm, 13-6;
Weather conditions send CFF.com home at halftime!
Union, NJ - Due to a surprising early-season blizzard hitting northern New Jersey and much of Pennsylvania on Saturday, Collegefootballfan.com chose to forego our tickets and travel plans to see No. 21 Penn State (now 8-1, 5-0) host Illinois (now 6-3, 2-3) in a Big Ten battle because of dangerous road conditions on the 200-mile trek to State College, Pennsylvania. To satisfy our football cravings on a Saturday afternoon, we headed instead on a shorter, easterly route to attend a competitive game between two solid, division three schools in the New Jersey Athletic Conference. No. 18 Kean U. located in Union (now 7-1, 6-1) hosted Rowan University (now 5-3, 5-2). Though a lower division, the schools' records and the importance of this game were as significant as the forgone D-1 game, but regretfully, the weather was as bad if not worse than it probably was in State College.
I arrived shortly before
kickoff as Kean seniors were being introduced for their last home game.
Too bad the driving cold, wet snowstorm kept away everyone but family members
and one crazy, die-hard football fan. I first headed to the Rec building nearby
to put on vinyl overalls and a poncho to at least keep dry against the elements.
I cleared the aluminum bleacher seat of the slushy snow to see the teams
prepping on the turf covered already by two inches of the slippery, white stuff
on the field, and it kept coming. The kickoff was short as Kean kicked off
into a deceiving wind and the teams squared off at midfield. Quarterback
Lou Bianchini of Rowan found out how difficult it was to throw and eventually
how difficult it was to receive a snap from center as two sailed over his head
for big losses early. As a result both teams primarily stuck to the ground
game which resulted in a lot of pushing and slipping by both sides resembling
plays looking more like rugby scrums than plays from the line of scrimmage.
Rowan's RB Keith Corcoran (40 carries for 170 yards) broke through one of those
scrums on the Prof's first drive and ran 61 yards down to the Cougars' five.
Two plays later, RB Steve Hevalow's fumble landed in the end zone and TE Kevin
DelleDonne recovered for the touchdown. Tom Wilczyski's extra point
attempt went right into the line, and Rowan led, 6-0. The teams pushed and
shoved and punted for the rest of the quarter and most of the second slipping
and sliding and fumbling the ball. I sat on the home side. The team
running north (to my right) was at the disadvantage as punts got held up
in the wind. Punts for the team heading south sailed. It was late in the
second period when the Cougars made their move taking advantage of a wind-held
Rowan punt to
I wondered what I wanted to do next. The game wasn't an interesting game despite the close score. Players struggled to keep their footing. The passing game was minimized and the teams pushed, shoved, and slipped to gain on the ground. As the snow continued to pile up, I got colder and my hands in particular got wetter making it very uncomfortable to watch. I decided to go under the bleachers at the half and take off my wet vinyls before going to sit in my car parked right outside the gate in the lot next to Kean's Alumni Stadium. I'd turn the heat on and decide what to do from there. I opened the trunk of my car reaching in to find the scraper when "boom! ". the weight of the snow on my trunk closed it on top of me. Not hurt, I stood there for a few seconds before I heard a loud "crack" from the evergreen tree right in front of my car. A large branch fell to the ground with a thud and rolled over several times. My decision was made - I was getting out of there. The weather wasn't getting better and I anticipated the second half to be the same as the second. I was right.
The teams went scoreless and neither team moved according to reports I read on Sunday. An interception return by ILB Bekim Gujari with less than two minutes in the game inside the Rowan 20 was the only score which gave the Cougars a 13-6 win. Like Rowan's extra point, Kean's also went directly into the line. It was a hard-fought, sloppy battle due to the very harsh weather. I have no regret that I left early.
The ride home was somewhat scary. Though roads were snow-covered and slippery, what was more threatening were sagging trees hanging over streets. The added weight of heavy snow and leaves caused some large trees to fall across major highways to slow traffic. A trip that should take less than an hour took over two. This is weather I'd seen but never expect until mid to late November, but not before Halloween! Trick or Treat!
Rowan hosts Montclair State (7-1,6-1) next week. Kean plays William Paterson next week and then meets current NJAC co-leader Montclair State. The last two weeks of the season are big ones in the New Jersey Athletic Conference. The winner between Kean and Montclair should move on to the play-offs if they both win next weekend. There's a three-way tie between these two and Cortland State for first place. CFF.com returns to Lehigh to watch the Hawks (7-1, 2-0) host Holy Cross (4-4, 2-1) in a key Patriot League match-up. The Crusaders fell to surprising Georgetown, 19-6, on Saturday. The following week, Lehigh faces Georgetown, still undefeated in League play, in DC for what could be for The Patriot League championship. We plan to possibly see Lafayette host Colgate at 6 pm after the Lehigh-Holy Cross game, but we may reconsider as LSU plays Alabama on TV at 8 pm that night. We'll see how we feel that night.
Extra points: Two other games during our history prevented us from attending due to snow. One was the Michigan-Penn State game of 1995. The other was the D-3 national championship in Salem, Virginia in 2007. In 2009, I sat through a major storm during Villanova's 46-7 win over New Hampshire in an FCS playoff game on their way to the national championship. In that case, the snow didn't start until the game started. It became wet and cold and was a miserable ride home. I didn't expect the weather to be as snowy in Union as it was in west Jersey on Saturday.
It was the first time I ever recall seeing snow stick to helmets as both teams on each sideline donned helmets covered in white on the side facing north as they stood on the sidelines. You could tell who was playing as their helmets had the snow knocked off out on the field of play.
Maintenance people shoveled the sideline and the goal lines/end lines throughout the game off the artificial turf. What a thankless job!
In the first half, the stadium lights suddenly went off, but no one flinched. The scoreboard and public address still worked. A brief flash followed by a sound of either thunder or a transformer shorting out was heard next. The fans "oohed!" Fire trucks came on campus shortly afterward. Much of New Jersey is still without power. Schools are already closed tomorrow. I'm lucky this time. After Hurricane Irene, we lost our power for six days. They must have fixed it for the better last time. Watched a lot of college game on TV after my ride home yesterday. Had I gone to Penn State, who knows when I would have gotten back!
Penn State won a typical defensive struggle this year over Illinois, 10-7. Their QB situation there hurts their offense. In two weeks, they'll host Nebraska before traveling to Ohio State and to Wisconsin. We'll be surprised if they are still undefeated in Big Ten play after those three games. But, Go State!